Recycling pumpkin recycling

Pumpkin recycling station 2-top onlyI’ve addressed pumpkin recycling in the past, but it is worth revisiting and updating with a new flyer you can use, below.

The idea is this: In most municipalities, you’re not supposed to put pumpkins in the yard waste, so it goes in the garbage which we (taxpayers) pay to dispose of by weight. Continue reading

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Compost: Stuff you need to start composting

It is the most basic of questions: What ‘stuff’ do I need to if I’m going to start composting?

Not surprisingly, the answers are simple and inexpensive. You can compost with a gold-plated compost unit or some pallets tied together, and you can always change things around later.

Here are some basics that I recommend: Continue reading

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“Can I compost it?” flowchart

I have no intent of replicating the many, many lists available online telling you what is compostable. (Though it is usually the most popular question people ask me.)

Instead, below is a handy flowchart (.pdf version here) you can hang on the refrigerator for those who keep asking you, “Can I compost this?”

Handy-dandy compost flowchart

Handy-dandy compost flowchart

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Wicked light, wicked strong, compost sifter

Compost screens, finished and unfinished.

Compost screens, finished and unfinished.

I’ve taught a few classes and done some exhibits about compost recently and have had a great time answering questions.

Several people have asked about the sifter/screen I use. I always point out that you don’t really need a screen, or that in a pinch a milk crate will do the job, but if you want a screen to give you a finer product, then this is a great, sturdy, lightweight unit.

Most people with just a few tools can build this compost screen which is designed to be light enough that people with limited upper-body strength can use it. The arms rest across most wheelbarrows and it is sturdy enough to handle sifting compost or getting rocks out of soil. Continue reading

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Raccoons and Compost: A Common Sense Primer

Raccoon digging for worms in my garden.

Raccoons live among us. They lived here before we composted. They lived here before we put out cat food, garbage cans, or bird feeders.

 If everybody stopped composting tomorrow, raccoons would still thrive here.

Continue reading

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Free light bulbs from Mass Save

I received a bunch of free CFL and LED bulbs from MassSave as a blogger. I was very clear that I was going to say what I wanted, not necessarily nice things. I held up my end of the bargain, as you’ll see below.

Update, 12/13/2014: Two important notes about this post. 1. It is old enough that some of these bulbs are no longer in production, let alone used by MassSave anymore. 2. This is, to me, the least interesting post on this website. Hopefully you’ll take a few moments to read other, more interesting posts on this website. Thanks!

MassSave is a great program which offers “free” energy audits to MA residents and

CFL samples Mass Save sent.

Some of the CFL samples Mass Save sent.

commercial property owners. Non-profit entities are not eligible for most services. (“Free” is in quotes because the funding comes from all of our energy bills, so we have, in fact, paid for the service. That’s fine and good in my book.)

If you haven’t had a free audit, go sign up for one, now. Go, I’ll wait. Done? Good. (If your last audit was four years ago, do it again. They’ve improved dramatically.) Continue reading

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Storm Prep


It’s been a while since our last storm, so a few quick reminders about safety related to energy efficiency. Remember, our safety personnel will likely have their hands full with other emergencies – let’s do them a favor by avoiding some of these basic hazards.

1. Clear direct vents: If you have a “direct venting” appliance such as a boiler or hot water heater, make sure the vents stay clear of snow. The vents are only a few feet off the

Typical direct vent exhaust as seen from outside the house.

Typical direct vent exhaust as seen from outside the house.

ground, so snow drifts can sometimes get in the way, especially if you’ve put anything under the vent. (Hint: Don’t put anything under the vent.)

If blocked, the CO from combustion will go into the home rather than outside. CO is known as a silent killer because there is no smell. Check the vent periodically throughout the storm.

2. Dryer vents: The same holds true for dryer vents – if snow or ice is blocking them they won’t function safely. In the case of a dryer this can lead to additional problems, like burning your house down. Until that happens, it can also dramatically rise the amount of time it takes to dry clothing, which wastes energy. Continue reading

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Wicked cold: What’s up with that?

The thermometer says it is wicked cold outside, it seems appropriate to address a few questions that always come up this time of year. Please add any questions you may have in the comments below. Continue reading

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Pumpkin recycling

Every Halloween we see a lot of good rotting flesh go to waste. That’s right, pumpkins tossed into the trash.

A trash can and a sign and you’re good to go

In Arlington we’re not allowed to put pumpkins in with the yard waste, so they often go in the garbage. This costs the town more in “tipping fees,” a fee calculated by weight, not volume. Pumpkins are, of course, heavy.

So what if after the holiday, the neighborhood pumpkins all came to you for composting, perfect to mix with the fallen leaves? (Leaves are carbon-rich, or “browns”. Pumpkins are nitrogen-rich, or “green”. You need both for rich compost.) Continue reading

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Solarize Arlington

If, dear reader, you live in Arlington and have considered going solar then please read this.

Ryan Katofsky, Arlington’s “Solar Coach,” will be speaking Thursday, May 31 about the discounts available for solar installation. Whether you’ve considered buying or renting PV panels, wondered what it would really take to make it happen or are only considering it now for the first time, you should go to this event. Continue reading

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